Dozens of people who need a nightly meal in Nanaimo are now looking for a new place to eat after Stone Soup, a group that helps feed those in need was shut down.
For nearly 17 months, its volunteers have been providing food to anyone who wants an evening meal.
On Sunday night, they served 160 people but that was their last supper. On Monday morning a bailiff arrived and removed Stone Soup’s supplies and the tenant’s possessions.
“All the food that we’ve got is getting wasted,” said Tanya Hiltz, a Stone Soup organizer and tenant of the property until today.
“There’s over a thousand dollars worth of soup here. Guess what’s happening. It gets dumped.”
The charities operators say they are helping the city.
“With shutting down Stone Soup, the crime rate is going to go up even more because now these people have to go back to stealing food,” said Doug Hiltz, Tanya’s husband who is also a Stone Soup organizer and a tenant until Monday.
Last February city inspectors found Stone Soup was operating out of a structure that had been built without permission.
Those running Stone Soup say they took down the structure and were abiding by the laws.
But the properties owner says his tenant’s continued to knowingly break the rules.
“[The] tenants knew all along. As of today [it was] still non-compliant so I had no choice to make this move and go in their myself and achieve compliance,” said Paul Manhas, the property’s landlord.
And Manhas says he was in an impossible situation.
“I support what they’re doing there myself. I’m very much sad about that what happened there today but it had to be done,” said Manhas.
Nanaimo’s mayor says the city simply has to ensure its bylaws are being upheld.
“With great respect, there was no more pressure placed on this landlord by the city than you would expect in any situation where you’re asking for compliance with the bylaws and that’s the landlord’s responsibility. It’s the owner’s responsibility to work that out with their tenant,” said Leonard Krog.
Doug and Tanya say they now find themselves in a tough spot.
“There’s where our possessions are. We have zero money,” said Tanya.
“There are no places available. we’ve been looking,” said Doug.
And the future of Stone Soup very much in jeopardy. All involved say they’re hoping the service will be able to continue but no one has identified an appropriate location.